I identified six marks of landscape painting in chapter 8 of Malcolm Andrews' 'Landscape and Western Art' (see last post), all of interest to me as I paint and print my local views. In this post I consider the personal relevance of the six points.
Since this reflection comes well after the making of the pictures that I have in mind, I must conclude that the seeming recognition of any of these features in my pre-existing work is a post hoc justification for their presence and thus devoid of any explanatory power. On the other hand, it might be possible to contend that the seeming application of any of Andrews' six insights may be the result of my intuitive stumbling upon, or (more likely) unconscious assimilation of, practices invented by other artists.
My little landscapes certainly take the view as the subject; they're not a setting for anything. Without exception the views are painted in situ (point #2). In fact, I've yet to find a way to satisfactorily paint a landscape elsewhere (though I have managed to derive prints from painted sketches and these are made in the studio). My images are small. I'd certainly like to make larger paintings, but practical constraints mean this would rely on using sketches and photographs indoors as reference material. So far I've been unsuccessful in this, which reinforces for me Vernet's point about the 'authority of nature'. I currently depend on having ready access to the motif, a fact that immediately highlights the changeability of what is depicted (part of point #1).
In an earlier post (26/11/18) I explored how my 'portraits of place' probably do contain a narrative element, by which I mean they refer to the passage of time. I saw this as a consequence of the pictures being painted, not photographed (#6), and of each being part of a series (#5). The links between the images are often made clear by my choice of titles (#3): many start with 'River Walk' and then incorporate explicit reference to the time or conditions they depict (e.g. 'River Walk (May): Low Moon Over Meadow'). Clearly when I made them I meant these pictures to be of particular places at particular times.
I have no interest in seeking out attractive views of far-flung scenes and recording them. Rather, I feel inclined to continue to record the increasingly familiar bit of countryside near where I live (#4), unassuming though it is. I want the images to capture the views that I've seen over and over, to bear testament to the fact that I saw them and that I spent time there.
I've touched on all six marks described in Andrews' chapter 'Nature as Picture or Process?' and how they relate to what I'm trying to do. However, a part of point #1 remains, that of wanting to hold on to the experience of being in a particular place. At which point Andrews discusses Turner's extraordinary 'Snow Storm', a pre-eminent example of paint arresting the human experience of being in nature. Far more quietly - not in any obviously sublime way - I could dare to hope to arrest moments in my experience of being here. The pile of paintings and prints that I amass will (I hope) be an autobiography and a legacy. I want someone in the future (and I probably mean my children) to have lasting evidence of my interior life, to be able to say, 'He was here.' Might this, in some as yet ill-defined way, be the extra 'values' ingredient that I add to a 'mere' depiction of place (see 01/12/18)? And what might that actually look like on paper or board?